Monday, December 19, 2016

Trip Prep!

Aw yeah, it's time for pre-trip prep! We have 30 folks signed up for our 2017 trip to Hogar de Amor - woah! - and we are deep in our trip preparations and fundraising. It's been so fun seeing this team come together, and I can't wait to serve together in Mexico in April.

The coffee's been flowing...
...and the auditorium is looking amazing!
Hogar de Amor, here we come!

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Reflections on Serving - Julie and Karlie

My heart is full. Full of joy given by these precious little ones. Hogar de Amor has within it's walls treasures that amaze! Caregivers that are angels, tirelessly giving of themselves and the children that are the fruits of their labor. These children captured our hearts forever and we left Colima better people then when we arrived. When I close my eyes, I can see their smiles, hear their voices and feel their hugs. Their footprint in my life brings a cherished emotion. I am grateful. Grateful for a God who brings protection and the love of our Christ to the children of Colima.

The sign outside of Hogar de Amor reads "Proteccion al Nino" and it could not be more accurate. These wonderful children are protected from hunger, danger and loneliness. These are not easy tasks. The day to day challenge to raise a child is a difficult one, but a more important one does NOT exist. The hands of Christ is clearly seen in those that are invested in the children each and every day.

I watched as loving adults helped kids with homework in small groups. I watched amazing women prepared nutritious, fresh meals (no mac and cheese for these kiddos!). I saw a courageous bus driver take and bring home precious cargo from school. (Drivers are LOCO in Mexico!) I saw children that had braces on their teeth, slicked braided hair and clean school uniforms. I held back tears (most of the time I failed..) when hearing sweet Spanish prayers lifted to the God I love.

"Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world..." A song I sang as a child. "they are precious in His sight" Amen.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Reflections on Serving - Dan

Have you ever had an elephant stand on your chest? When we arrived at the orphanage and the kids saw us, they came running with open arms. They hugged us each as if we were long lost family members that they hadn't seen in years.

As they hugged us, there was a huge rush of emotion that whaled up inside of me, it was so intense that it was hard to breathe. It felt like an elephant was standing on my chest! There was a never ending flood of love that poured out of each child. They were honestly glad to see us and excited for what the week held. Some remembered us from years past, but most were just full of so much love that they couldn't help but to let it come out.

For me, emotion is one of those things that can get in the way of proper business, financial or even family decisions. If I made all my decisions based on emotion, I would flip-flop on everything. I would do whatever felt good at the moment. So I've trained myself to take emotion out of decisions. I've taught myself to view each situation as black or white, there is a right way and a wrong way for everything.

Well things aren't so simple at the orphanage. Sometimes things aren't "right" or "wrong", they just are what they are in this fallen world and the only thing that shines through is love.

What if every time I entered a room I ran to the closest person and hugged them so tight that they felt loved?

I am reminded today, that I am loved by God, that he is the creator of love, that after all else is gone, love still stands. So my question to myself is "how can I be more like one of these children and let love come through?", regardless of my hurts and hang ups.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Reflections on Serving - Jamie

I admit it, I was nervous about this year's trip to Colima.

This is my fourth year leading the CenterPoint team to serve at Hogar de Amor, but this is the first time that we've traveled completely solo without our sister team from North Carolina. As excited as I was to see the caregivers and kids I have grown so attached to, I was anxious about going it alone. Would we get lost or have trouble driving in Mexico? Would the team grow tired of me nagging?Would the strain of organizing without my co-leaders suck the joy out of the trip?

And did I miss our sister team? Did it get stressful navigating Colima? Did I have moments of exhaustion? You betcha. 

But you know what? The differences I was dreading ended up just being nice changes - not necessarily better than previous trips, but sweetly different.

I got to rely on the team and my co-leader from Utah more, and they amazed me every day with their willingness to do whatever it took to serve each other and the kids and caregivers of Hogar de Amor. We got to explore Colima in a new way, finding our way around the city and visiting the places that we wanted to go. We got to know Pastor Pablo from Grupo Amor and work more closely with the amazing caregivers as we worked directly with them on the projects that would make the biggest difference in their everyday lives.

Change is scary. Especially change that involves taking fourteen people to another country for a week. 

And the 2016 Mexico Mission Trip was beautiful. It was beautiful to see the transformation in the team that came from hard work borne of love. It was beautiful to see smiles light up the kids faces when they saw us return for another year - coming back year after year speaks volumes to these kids about their worth and our (and Jesus') love for them. It was beautiful to see the caregivers open up so readily to our presence, inviting us to meals and welcoming us into their lives and work with open arms.

I love how God took my nervous worry and used it to teach me a new lesson in trust and transformation. For me, our 2016 Mexico Mission Trip was one big experience of Ephesians 3:20
God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Reflections on Serving - Marcia

I enjoy going to Hogar de Amor orphanages each year. They are the best, they greet us with smiles and hugs each day. The food is out of this world. This is authentic Mexican, no tourist nachos here.

I also love serving with my family. This year, daughter Jamie and grandson Sam joined Kelsey and me as the sewing team. There were dueling sewing machines, yards and yards of material being cut on the floor and a sense of satisfaction when the house mothers joyfully received the bed sheets.

Grandson Ben dropped by in between painting jobs to be the delivery boy and unpin the elastic.

Two years ago a met a sweet teen named Angela. Each return trip we reconnect and share a few moments together. I write her and I pray for her. When we meet, I get to see how our Heavenly Father has answered those prayers. She now lives in a home about a mile away from the main compound, which gives her a sense of family and stability.

Our prayer was that others would see Christ in all we do. I see Christ in the love and dedication of the house parents (they raise their own family in the home with the rest of the kids), in the smiles and love of the kids and in the beauty of the country. Jesus was glorified again this year

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Reflections on Serving - Sam

Hogar de Amor is the best place in the world. Its amazing to watch the kids play so happily, despite the turmoil they left at home to come to the orphanage. What I mean is that the situation has to be really bad at home for the kids to come to Hogar de Amor. In Mexico, family is everything. The kids only go to the hogar if nobody else in the extended family is able take them.

Adoption is also very difficult in Mexico as well, bordering on impossible. So that leaves the kids in the orphanage until adulthood. And yet, despite it all, these kids are happier than a lot of people in America, where people have a lot more going for them than these kids.

I truly find this beautiful and inspiring, and gives me something happy to think about when I'm feeling down. I am so glad that we found Hogar de Amor, and that I get to serve the kids and caregivers, and help this wonderful place do its wonderful work. I hope Hogar de Amor can do this for years and years to come.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Reflections on Serving - Shane

Why do we do this?

Why do we do this thing?

We take time off from school and work, travel all day by plane, bus, and taxi to come to a place, that for the new people in the group, we know nothing about. Most of us don't understand the language or recognize our surroundings. We work hard in the shadow of one of the world's most active volcanoes. And, for those like me, wonder if the next burrito is going to put me down for 3 days. We step so far out of our comfort zone that we forget what that even means for a while.

Why do we do it?

John 3:16 Tells us:
For God so loved the world that he gave His one and only Son

Our only job in Mexico is to share the love of Jesus with the children and caregivers of the orphanage. We do this by spending time playing, working, eating and living with them.

When we are doing this, we are wholly in the presence of God. And he is in the form of the children that live there.

The most difficult time comes when it is time for us to leave. It seems to get harder every year. And I have to confess, this past week has been hard on me as I miss those kids.

Why do we do this?

It's just like James 2:18 says:
Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you faith, by my deeds.